All posts by Daniel Scher

Daniel Scher, Ph.D., is a senior digital strategist at McGraw-Hill Education. He worked as a senior scientist at KCP Technologies, co-directing the NSF-funded Dynamic Number project and Forging Connections project.

A Trio of Parabola Constructions

In my prior blog posts, I've presented methods for constructing ellipses  using Web Sketchpad and paper folding. The other conic sections are feeling a bit left out, so let's explore some techniques for constructing parabolas. All three Web Sketchpad models below (and here) are based on the distance definition of a parabola: The set of … Continue Reading ››

An Interactive Approach to Finding nth Roots

When students find the nth roots of a complex number, they use de Moivre's Theorem and a fair bit of calculation and trigonometry. In this blog post, I'm going to approach the topic from a more visual perspective and make use of the following geometric way to think about complex number multiplication: To multiply two complex … Continue Reading ››

Beam of Light

This month's post is based on a problem that appears in Martin Gardner's Sixth Book of Mathematical Diversions from Scientific American. Below (and here) is a Web Sketchpad model of an orderly forest. There is a tree at every point whose x- and y-coordinates are both integers. These are the green points. You … Continue Reading ››

Catching Up with New Web Sketchpad Functionality

This past January, we introduced the Web Sketchpad Tool Library and  Viewer. The Tool Library is a collection of over 60 mathematical tools for customizing a Web Sketchpad model, making it possible for teachers to decide which tools students have available to them on an activity-by-activity basis. The Viewer is a site … Continue Reading ››

The Folded Circle Construction

Of all the conic section construction techniques, my favorite is undoubtedly the approach that requires nothing more than a paper circle. Here's what to do: Draw or print a circle and its center, point A, on a sheet of paper. Cut out the circle. Mark a random point B anywhere on the circle. Then, fold … Continue Reading ››

Dividing and Subdividing

Given a strip of paper, how might you divide it into fourths without using a ruler?  Undoubtedly, you'd fold the strip in half and then in half again to locate the quarter marks. Now suppose that your goal is to divide a strip into sixths. You might start by folding the strip into thirds and … Continue Reading ››

A Double Spiral from David Henderson

David Henderson, one of my two Cornell master's thesis advisors, died this past December. I wrote about David in a prior post, and in particular, his approach of asking us  to grapple with a small number of  rich problems, allowing us  to find our own, often non-traditional, … Continue Reading ››